Directors of various tourism boards of the Indian Ocean islands have attended a meeting held on August 4 on Reunion Island, in order to develop a marketing plan for the region’s tourism industry.
Present at the meeting were, Alain St.Ange from Seychelles, Joel Randriamandranto from Madagascar, Pascal Viroleau from Reunion, and Dr. Karl Mootoosamy from Mauritius. The president of the Chamber of Commerce for Reunion Island, Pascal Plante, chaired the one-day meeting, which took place in Saint Denis on Reunion Island.
With the three leading destinations of the region – Mauritius, Reunion, and Seychelles – being at the forefront, the objective was to revitalize the Indian Ocean island’s tourism by reinforcing the islands’ attractiveness through a series of measures aimed to penetrate and secure new tourist markets through each of the island’s unique selling points and to put into place either a culture of evaluation or a system of marketing research that will assist the islands either on an individual or on a collective basis.
To better position the region at the international level, the tourism representatives from the region have agreed on a brand image – the Vanilla Islands – for the Indian Ocean to better sell the islands as a whole.
Accessibility, quality, uniqueness, and competitiveness, together with the local culture of each of the islands, are all attributes that can help the region rise to this new positioning.
The exotic and sentimental charms of the Indian Ocean, including its patrimony and multitude experience, are other characteristics that can also play a part in creating a more positive image and increase the visibility of the region within the European market (France, UK, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy), Scandinavian market (Denmark, Holland, Sweden, and Finland), and the South Africa and Asian market (India and China).
In order to start building this new image of the Indian Ocean, it was agreed that there were some priorities that first needed to be put in place, including the set up of a website, a joint promotion to further develop the cruiseship business, and the establishment of a “regional academy” so as to have people specailizing in products of the region.
Other issues discussed at the meeting are as follows:
– to carry out the audit of the region;
– the setting up of a meeting for tour operators of the region, which will be held on September 15 in Mauritius;
– announcement of the agreement for a joint project for the next Top Resa trade fair in France in September; and
– a meeting in Seychelles from October 19-22 for the endorsement of the plan for the Indian Ocean Economic Forum.
Alain St.Ange, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, said on his return to Seychelles that the idea of a label for the Indian Ocean islands was a must in this globalized world. “We all need to be proud of our region and then to push that region to ensure that the strengths and unique selling points of each of our islands are put forward in our bid to bring the Indian Ocean Islands to the minds of potential visitors. Together we are strong, and together we are not an island but part of a whole destination,” Alain St.Ange said.